By David Thun on March 17, 2016 in Notary News
Whether you’re self-employed, work in an office or have some other occupation, Notaries in all walks of life face many challenges. To find out what Notary-related issues matter most to you, the Notary Bulletin conducted an online survey last month. Here’s what you told us.
Keeping Up With New State Laws
Both self-employed and office Notaries who took our survey were very concerned with doing their jobs right and staying out of trouble.
“Keeping up with state Notary laws and regulations,” “Protecting myself from liability” and “Knowing how to perform notarizations properly” were the three most important concerns going into 2016 (see text box below).
Last year saw several states enacting major changes to their Notary laws, such as California’s new mandatory disclaimer for Notary certificates and the new Texas requirement for identification numbers on Notary seals.
A Notary who doesn’t keep up with changes to state laws is far more likely to make mistakes that leave the Notary vulnerable to lawsuits, said Jessica McGarry, a paralegal and Notary with Nationwide Title Clearing, Inc., in Palm Harbor, Florida.
“If a Notary is not up to date on current Notary laws, they’ll not likely be able to perform notarizations properly, which will make them more susceptible to lawsuits and liability,” she said.
Earning Income As A Self-Employed Notary
The amount that can be charged for Notary services was rated as a top concern by self-employed Notaries who participated in our survey.
“More people are becoming Notaries thinking they will make a lot of money,” said Maria Brenton, a self-employed Notary Signing Agent from Santa Clarita, California. “There’s a lot of competition. New Notaries need to learn the rules of notarizations before trying to make money at it.”
Webcam and Electronic Notarization Questions
A new law trend that caught the attention of many of our survey respondents is more states are enacting statutes for so-called “webcam notarizations” — that is, notarizations using audio or visual technology to communicate with a signer instead of direct physical appearance.
Carol Salter, an experienced Notary and staff Notary instructor for Banner Health in Greeley, Colorado, said she has serious concerns about the potential for abuse in webcam communication.
“I think there’s potential for a lot of fraud,” Salter said. “There’s no way to tell if someone’s holding a gun to the signer’s head off camera.”
That said, other Notaries say incorporating electronic signature and document technology into the traditional notarization process could potentially be very helpful — provided the signer still physically appears in person before the Notary.
“I’ve done some eSignings where half the documents are paper and half on the computer,” said Joyce Evans, a Signing Agent from Greenbelt, Maryland. “I would like to see us move away from paper to fully electronic closings.”